CITY BEAT: BITS AND PIECES FROM HERE AND THERE AROUND DECATUR
• CITY COUNCIL LIVE — City Clerk Kim Althoff sent out a notification that the Decatur City Council will conduct all three of its scheduled July meetings in the Civic Center Theatre. “
This alternate venue will enable both the City Council and city staff to practice social distancing more effectively; and it will permit audience members to spread out, enter and exit through separate doors, and generally practice greater safety measures than would be possible in the City Council Chambers.
“A decision will be made at a later time concerning the location of August meetings.” City Council meetings will be held on the following dates in July: • Regular Meeting on July 6 at 5:30 pm • Study Session on July 13 at 5:30 pm • Regular Meeting on July 20 at 5:30 pm Meetings are traditionally held on the first, third and, occasionally, fifth Monday of each month.
Although not quite the same as meeting in the council chambers, it is the next logical move in protecting the mayor, council members, staff and audience through social distancing.
• THE KFC at 1310 E. Pershing Road had it license suspended last week and was closed down. That happened after the Macon County Health Department’s inspection report called it “an imminent health hazard”. KFC seemed to be doing a sizeable amount of business in recent weeks as its drive-through window, at times, had extremely long lines of cars with a wait time between drivers pulling into the lot and finally making it to the window to get their food of 20 to 30 minutes.
Popeyes, also on Pershing Road, was closed down last week by the Macon County Health Department for multiple infractions. Frankly, I didn’t know Popeyes had reopened after its last closure, but my visits to fast food places have been greatly reduced during the past three months because of the pandemic.
• AS YOU are reading this column we are about a full week into Phase 4 of Restore Illinois and businesses have been operating with less restrictions for several days. With escalating COVID-19 cases in other states that reopened too soon, I hope residents of Illinois, especially in Decatur and Macon County, will still practice safe behavior in the days ahead — which includes masks when around other people, frequent hand washing and social distancing. I don’t think anyone wants to go back to where we were before Phase 4 but Governor J. B. Pritzker has indicated that is exactly what is going to happen if COVID-19 cases in Illinois start to spike. We can’t let that happen because it would be financially and emotionally disastrous and, of course, devastating for those seriously infected and their families.
• A LOCAL health professional recently sent me an email stating: “Regarding the mask issue, and speaking as a health professional, the mask does indeed need to cover nose and mouth and if you wear a mask and are a cashier or clerk or person who serves the public then why wear it over your throat unless you have a tracheostomy? Why insult us who desire to be protected by gross improper use.”
• IT’S ABOUT TIME! It looks like we are finally going to have a court- ruling recount on the ballots from the 2018 General Election for the office of Macon County Sheriff between Sheriff Tony Brown and Jim Root after Brown was declared the winner by one vote.
On Tuesday, (July 7), the Macon County Clerk’s office will start to man-ually recount each vote. As previously reported, Jim Root officially lost the election by one vote to Tony Brown. Root has contested it in court ever since because he believes that uncounted votes actually gave him the victory. Now, all the votes will be counted. The long delay because of working its way through the judicial process is difficult to understand. Brown has already served nearly half of the four-year term, leaving him to wonder if he will remain the sheriff and Root, has also been living with the firm feeling that he actually won the election. It hasn’t been fair to either man and hopefully, we can get the final, accurate count that will either confirm Brown’s victory or that Root actually won. If Root wins the recount, then he will serve the remainder of the four-year term.
I have a feeling this is not going to finally be over with the recount. Maybe I feel that way because the “which man won?” controversy has been out there for so long.
• THANKS SO much to organizers and attendees who have been rallying to show their appreciation and support of the Decatur Police Department — first in front of the police department building on South Side Drive on Thursday afternoon and again on Saturday at another rally. Check out a ‘letter to the editor’ on page 2 of this week’s print edition for follow-up information. I believe we will be seeing continued, strong support for our police department personnel. As one caller told me recently, we don’t need to “defund” the police, we need to “defend” the police. We don’t need to defend the actions of insensitive, cruel police officers that we’ve seen in several cities across our nation in recent days, but that is not what the overwhelming majority of police officers are about — especially in Decatur, Illinois.
• CONGRATULATIONS to Dawn Morville Johnson, formerly of Decatur, who has been appointed to the Eastern Illinois University Foun-dation Board of Directors. (Story on page 6 of this week’s print edition.)
I remember Dawn from her reporting days at the Herald & Review many years ago and would often see her at news conferences that I was covering for the Trib. She did a great job for the daily newspaper. Dawn is now a partner at the law firm of Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale, P.C. in St. Louis. She is the daughter of Judith and the late Richard Morville of Decatur.
Some people, like Dawn, you just know are going to be success stories in whatever they do in life.
• GREAT VIEW! I was starting to walk through Central Park entering from the south side last Friday afternoon when I stopped and took a long look at the Central Park fountain. It was a sunny day and the fountain, with its water spouts and water falls from the gigantic bowls, plus the flags in the park to one side, seemingly transported my mind for a minute or two to all of the beauty and serenity we have in our community, if we just take the time to look. It’s all there — and the best part is it is free for all to enjoy.
• HORN IS RUNNING for re-election to the Decatur City Council. There’s a story on page 6 that City Councilman David Horn has announced that he is seeking re-election to one of the three city council seats that are up for election in the spring of 2021. The terms of Councilmen Patrick McDaniel and Chuck Kuhle are also up in 2021 but, as I’m writing this City Beat, neither has indicated if they will run for re-election. McDaniel is also the liquor commissioner and mayor pro tem. McDaniel and Kuhle have been the focus of negative attention at times over the past several months mostly in an attempt to discourage both men from seeking re-election. Both men voted against approving a marijuana dispensary in Decatur, and they are targets for removal mostly by those who want to replace them with pro-marijuana dispensary candidates.
It looks to me like the decision by McDaniel and Kuhle to run, or not run, will have far-reaching impact in multiple ways on the next council that will be seated in 2021.
• EVEN THOUGH our community, along with other communities in Illinois, moved into the governor’s Phase 4 of Restore Illinois on Friday, I haven’t seen a lot of shoppers flooding streets anxious to go into restaurants and other places of businesses. I know on Friday afternoon (June 26), when I got my car from one of the municipal parking lots, there weren’t any more cars (very few) in the lot than the previous weekdays and as I drove around, downtown seemed almost deserted at 2:00 in the afternoon. Quite frankly, I think opening up more for businesses and customers in Phase 4 has some owners taking a slow approach and many people I know aren’t all that ready to resume “normal” shopping and eating habits until some more time passes — which is understandable. I think most people want to make sure Phase 4 is going to be safe and we won’t have to go back to an earlier phase because of a spike in cases.
• MAYBE IT IS just me, but as we approach our Independence Day holiday this year, it seems to hold a deeper meaning, even though most celebrations that are connected to it, will not be happening. I think what has happened in our nation over the past several months with the COVID-19 pandemic, and the demonstrations (some violent) has made me think about how much we’ve taken our freedoms for granted over the years. I’ve been thinking more about our Constitution than I have in a long time — and how much it means to what we want our nation to be, now, and in the future. We have work to do to make our nation what our forefathers desired it to be for all of us.
Although now challenged, Americans have long attributed to Alexis de Tocqueville these words” “America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.”
This Independence Day, despite all the negativity and violence that are reported daily, the same spirit of goodness remains with us and that’s why our nation is still great. God Bless America on Independence Day — and all days.
• STAY SAFE everyone and take proper precautions over the upcoming long Independence Day weekend.